Secretary of state to noncitizens: You can't vote

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Thursday that she is letting about 600 non-U.S. citizens know they need to withdraw from the voter rolls.
AP Wire
Oct 11, 2013

The noncitizens registered to vote, in some cases not realizing what they were doing, Johnson said in a statement, "but the law is clear — only U.S. citizens may be registered to vote and vote on election day."

There are criminal penalties for noncitizens who register and vote, Johnson said.

"Voting is one of our most precious freedoms and is really the cornerstone of democracy," Johnson said. "I have an obligation to the citizens of this state to ensure that there is integrity in the system."

Department of state offices used to routinely ask all people getting driver's licenses if they wanted to register to vote but no longer do so, the department said.

The list of noncitizen voters comes from Michigan's driver records and federal records, Johnson said.

The department will send letters this week asking the individuals to contact state election officials to be removed from the rolls, Johnson said.

The department last year said it verified about 1,000 noncitizen registered voters and extrapolated that there could be as many as four times more.

The 600 represents those who could be verified as registered voters, department spokeswoman Gisgie Gendreau told The Associated Press. She said the federal government hasn't helped Michigan work through its voter registration list.

"For many years, our branches asked if customers wanted to register to vote," Gendreau said. She said it started a new policy in 2008 in which clerks were not supposed to ask people whose paperwork showed they weren't citizens about registering to vote.

In May 2013, the department reprogrammed its system so computers don't prompt staffers to ask people about registering to vote if their documents show they aren't U.S. citizens, she said.

Comments

Mark Thomason

Our laws do provide that non-citizens cannot vote.

However, in 19th Century America, residents could vote, without formal citizenship. Voters were the people of the community, the people who lived there. The idea was that all of the adult residents had an equal say in their own future. From that equal voice came legitimacy and fairness of government.

That was good enough for Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln.

I'm not sure when it ended. Back then, we did not have real residents and second class residents. My oldest two aunts on my mother's side were born in Ontario, and her parents were from London, UK. They lived and worked in Detroit from the early 1920's, and were all always treated as citizens.

I think real democracy and responsive government would have a residency requirement, not citizenship. A person is part of the community or not, and that should make a voter.

Vladtheimp

Skipping over the obvious question of why, prior to 2008, Michigan state employees asked people whose paperwork showed they weren't citizens if they wanted to vote and then registered them, and skipping over the fact that if one wants to use the 19th century as the correct model of voting rights women and blacks wouldn't be voting today, since we are in the realm of what "should be" I propose that only taxpayers should vote.

A person that does not support the community financially should not be a voter.

LessThanAmused

It almost makes me nauseous to say it, but on this topic I'd have to agree with you for the most part. I'd have to ask if non-citizens can be taxpayers because I'm not entirely sure on that point.

For me I'd prefer that only citizens have the right to vote for the simple reason that if you're not a citizen then why would you feel compelled to vote, unless someone was paying you for your vote.

I spent the summer of 1990 in Germany and although I'm pretty sure I paid taxes on purchases and such, no one mentioned that I had the right to vote on issues there at the time. Not sure why I'd have thought I should be able to, the thought never entered my mind. I was a visitor there, not a citizen.

SCH39339

YAAUA

LessThanAmused

Shouldn't you be out panhandling somewhere? Make enough and you could buy yourself another vowel. You do know what vowels are don't you?

Vladtheimp

For some Pepto - you're right - I should have said "citizen taxpayers."

Lanivan

If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you might think you don’t have to pay income taxes to the IRS. You’d be wrong. Noncitizens who spend enough time in the United States are subject to the same taxes as U.S. citizens. Two types of noncitizens must pay U.S. taxes:

green card holders, and
holders of nonimmigrant visas who satisfy the substantial presence test.

If you fall within either classification, you are a “resident alien” for tax purposes. Resident aliens must report all their income from all sources on their U.S. tax return and pay income tax on it at the same rates as U.S. citizens.

This past month, there was much outrage over the fact that General Electric, despite making $14.2 billion in profits, paid zero U.S. taxes in 2010. General Electric actually received tax credits of $3.2 billion from American taxpayers.

At the same time that General Electric was not paying taxes, many undocumented immigrants, who are typically accused of taking advantage of the system while not contributing to it by many on the right, paid $11.2 billion in taxes. A new study by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy shows that undocumented immigrants paid $8.4 billion in sales taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $1.2 billion in personal income taxes last year. The study also estimates that nearly half of all undocumented immigrants pay income taxes.

http://thinkprogress.org/securit...

Tri-cities realist

I wonder how much the employees of GE paid in taxes. My guess is that it dwarfs the $3.2B in tax credits. I'm not defending the tax credits, but it isn't accurate to portray GE as only siphoning money from the govt.

And according to fact check, they did pay US taxes in 2010. See
http://www.factcheck.org/2012/04...

And the source of much of those tax credits? Green energy. So do you now oppose those green energy credits? Welcome aboard if you do.

As for the undocumented immigrants, I wonder how many govt "benefits" they consumed. Again my guess is that it dwarfs the $11.2B they contributed.

Lanny, are you implying that the undocumented immigrants contribute more in taxes than all of GE (and other big evil companies) and its employees?

I'll take my chances with a nation of businesses similar to GE than a bunch of undocumented (illegal... Gasp) immigrants. Which begs the question, if they are "undocumented", how are they paying income tax, and how is it "documented"?

Lanivan

You're getting a little off-topic here. My information was a reply to LTA's question as to whether non-citizen's pay taxes - any kind. And the bottom-line answer is yes, in significant amounts. This also pertains to Vlad's assertion that only those citizens who contribute financially to the community should be allowed to vote.

Read factcheck article - GE MAY have paid income taxes. After media exposure and public outcry, they now say they did, but will not reveal how much, or make public the worksheets that would allow others to determine how much. And the $14.2 billion in profits is a worldwide figure, not just the US, and transnational corporations only pay income taxes on the profits made in the US. Again, not the point of this discussion of weeding out non-citizens from the voting rolls.

As for GE, those tax credits might be for the fracking business they are developing. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/0...

Rather than guessing, perhaps you should do a little research (on unbiased sites) and see how many government benefits they receive for their $11.2 billion in taxes they pay.

As to the undocumented workers and the amount of taxes they pay, you might want to check with all the businesses that hire them and take out payroll taxes from their wages. In fact, it may be that GE has some undocumented workers on it's payroll.

So am I to understand you agree with Vlad - Only citizens who contribute financially to the community have a right to vote in a democracy?

Tri-cities realist

GE might be getting subsidized for fracking, they ARE getting subsidized for green energy, thanks for not answering my question.

I tried to find the answer to my question about how many benefits illegals consume, but was unsuccessful, which is why I asked the question.

As for your last question, I am undecided at this point (aren't you proud of me?). However I do think something needs to be done about the roughly half of our population that doesn't pay federal income tax, who can continue to vote for more feeding at the govt trough. Yes I realize they pay other taxes, and contribute financially. Getting the constitution changed will never happen, so I'm more concerned with getting these people off the govt nipple and supporting themselves. Perhaps then they will see how out of control govt spending is (relative to revenue).

Lanivan

Well, let's not skip over the obvious question(s): How do you define "supporting the community financially"? Paying sales tax? Gasoline taxes? Charitable contributions?

What about those people who rent, and don't (directly) pay property taxes? Or those who do not pay income tax? What about students?

Are you proposing people must provide proof of paying taxes before they can vote? Doesn't residency automatically indicate some level of community financial support?

And Mark Thomason: What do think of the SCOTUS invalidation of the key part of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the voter suppression efforts of many Republican-led state governments?

Tri-cities realist

Do you mean non-citizen voter suppression? I'd hope we all could agree non-citizens should not vote.

And to answer your first question, how about paying ANY tax that wasn't paid for with money redistributed by the govt.

Lanivan

• Undocumented immigrants currently contribute significantly to state and local taxes, collectively paying an estimated $10.6 billion in 2010 with contributions ranging from less than $2 million in Montana to more than $2.2 billion in California. This means these families are likely paying about 6.4 percent on average of their income in state and local taxes.

• Allowing undocumented immigrants to work in the United States legally would increase their state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2 billion a year. Their effective state and local tax rate would also increase to 7 percent on average, which would put their tax contributions more in line with documented taxpayers with similar incomes.

Tri-cities realist

Again, I'll ask, how much govt benefits do they consume? I wasn't able to find the answer.

Tri-cities realist

And do you agree, non-citizens should not vote?

Mark Thomason

Vladtheimp -- "if one wants to use the 19th century as the correct model of voting rights women and blacks wouldn't be voting today"

Some things are better today. Some changes are not so good.

On some things, Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln did it better than we do it today. We ought to at least consider their thinking. They made mistakes too, but pointing to their mistakes out of satisfaction with the superiority of our own times is just wrong.

They did a lot more right than wrong, and we'd do well to thank them and consider the lessons.

Mark Thomason

The point of voting is the "consent of the governed." That brings community peace and acceptance, even to things we don't like, and did not vote for. It is termed "legitimacy" of government.

Years ago, the Supreme Court appointed me to be an Arbitrator, and one of the Justices gave us lessons. A big point he made was that a good judge or arbitrator gets the parties to accept his ruling, even if one or both don't like it. He does that by giving them the sense of fairness, that they were heard and respected and their side was considered fairly. People will accept defeat in a fair fight, but not unfairness. Someone has got to lose, but nobody has to walk away with resentment for how they were treated. The same idea applies to voting. It is why consent of the governed is a key concept.

The Virginia Bill of Rights was written by Founding Father George Mason in 1776, and expressly drawn upon by Jefferson in his drafting of the Declaration of Independence, and was a model for our own Bill of Rights today, and it used these terms:

"That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly, ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, the attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the public good."

Today we would say all persons. The test then was "permanent common interest with, the attachment to, the community." That is not "citizenship." Legal permanent residents have that. Transients don't, whether citizens or not.

Zegota

Very simple, Good, if you're not a legal resident of Michigan, or of the United States, then there are no reasons why you should be able to vote in the United States. "Enough" of the political correctness madness, stop it already, and lets protect a little of this country before it is all gone!

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